On 13 October 2016, Political Insider web site posted an attempt to rebut reporting by the New York Times about allegations from two women that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had groped them. Political Insider maintained that the Times was “punked” because their source, Jessica Leeds, used a phrase to describe Trump that appears in the 1968 song “The Gift” by the Velvet Underground:
But it appears the story is entirely false, and the New York Times was officially “punked!”
Why? Because the story appears to be borrowed from a Velvet Underground song.
The lyrics are nearly word-for-word what her story is. This is shocking!
The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift” is a lengthy (eight-minute) song told in short story form, and it includes the following passage:
Sheila nibbled on a cuticle. “After last night, I thought maybe you’d be through with him.”
“I know what you mean. My God, he was like an octopus. Hands all over the place.” She gestured, raising her arms upward in defense. “The thing is after a while, you get tired of fighting with him, you know, and after all he didn’t really do anything Friday and Saturday so I kind of owed it to him, you know what I mean.”
This passage has little in common with the New York Times‘ reporting of Leeds’ claim that Trump had groped her during a flight to New York, other than the use of the phrase “he was like an octopus” and a similar (but different) reference to wandering hands. It is far from a “nearly word-for-word” reproduction of “The Gift”:
About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.
According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.
The “octopus” comparison has been used to describe multiple other sexual assault perpetrators in the nearly half century since the Velvet Underground released “The Gift.” For example, Niaz Ahmed, a British anesthesiologist who was jailed in 2015 for groping colleagues, was described by a prosecutor as an “octopus” with “hands all over the place”:
Ahmed, who was suspended from medical practice at a tribunal for groping a nurse who was treating him after an accident in 2010, was cleared of three similar charges.
Michael Hodson, prosecuting, said: ‘Imagine what it was like going to work with a sex pest, always the octopus, hands all over the place, underlined by innuendo.’
Another British man, Dave Lee Travis, was described in newspaper as an “octopus” whose “hands went everywhere”:
Dave Lee Travis known as ‘octopus because his hands went everywhere’
Veteran DJ’s trial on indecent and sexual assault charges hears how a female TV personality froze during his ‘squeezing grope’
In fact, the phrase “octopus hands” is common enough when talking about a man who can’t keep his mitts to himself that it appears in UrbanDictionary.com:
When a person’s hands are all over another person.
Girl 1: That couple looks so cute!
Girl 2: Yeah, except the guy can’t control his octopus hands.
Girl 1: He should keep his hands to himself!
The notion that Leeds’ claims about Trump were fabricated because she described them using a few common words and phrases also found in a 48-year-old song is just silly. True or not, several people confirmed that Leeds had previously recounted her story about Trump to them, and her account was bolstered by that of a second woman, Rachel Crooks, who told reporters that Trump shook her hand and then kissed her without her consent:
Ms. Leeds has told the story to at least four people close to her, who also spoke with The New York Times.
Mr. Trump’s claim that his crude words had never turned into actions was similarly infuriating to a woman watching in Ohio: Rachel Crooks.
Ms. Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan, when she encountered Mr. Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning in 2005.
Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”